The targets are a result of the Environment Act (2021) which requires the Government to set a number of long-term, legally binding environmental targets. These cover the following areas: biodiversity, water, air quality, and resource efficiency and waste reduction. The Government has chosen to set additional targets for woodland cover and the marine environment. The aim of the targets is to set a long-term direction for environment policy and the CLA has welcomed this as providing certainty to businesses about what is expected. The targets are ambitious, for example creating 500,000 hectares of wildlife habitat by 2042 and reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution from agriculture by 40% by 2037. The right set of policies and adequate funding will be needed to achieve these targets otherwise they will not be met. There is also work to do to translate national targets into action for individual business sectors and local areas, for example to know what the role of agriculture will be to deliver these targets. We call on the Government to work with businesses, especially farmers and land managers, to look at what investment is needed to meet the environmental targets and to set interim targets so that progress can be measured. The targets must be followed by a clear and detailed plan, setting out what action is needed, when and how this will be supported. Without this, the risk is that future governments engage in poorly thought-through and rushed policy-making in a bit to meet the legally-binding targets.
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